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Creamy Lemon-Ricotta Cheesecake

30 vanilla wafers
4 Tbsp margarine or butter (1/2 stick)
4 tsp grated lemon peel
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
lemon-peel strips and mint sprigs for garnish

In food processor with knife blade attached or in blender at medium
speed, blend vanilla wafers until fine crumbs form (makes about 1
cup crumbs). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small saucepan, melt
margarine or butter over low heat; stir in 1 tsp lemon peel. In
a 9" by 3" springform pan, with a fork, stir wafer crumbs and melted
margarine mixture until moistened. With hand, press mixture firmly
onto the bottom of the pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Cool completely
in pan on wire rack, about 30 minutes. Wrap outside of pan with

Turn oven to 325 degrees. In cup, combine sugar and cornstarch
until blended. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat
cream cheese and ricotta cheese until smooth, about 5 minutes;
slowly beat in sugar mixture. At low speed, beat in eggs,
half-and-half, lemon juice, vanilla, and remaining 3 tsp lemon peel
just until blended, scraping bowl often with a rubber spatula.
Pour cream-cheese mixture onto crust. Bake cheesecake 1 hour and
15 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake remain in oven 1 hour
longer. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool completely in pan on
wire rack. Cover and refrigerate cheesecake at least 6 hours or
overnight until well chilled. Remove side of pan to serve. Garnish
with lemon peel and mint sprigs. Makes 16 servings.


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